When kids are sick, parents take action to ensure that they are comfortable, rested and on the road to recovery. When the child is frequently sick on a school day, parents may wonder if their child's illness was brought on by a lack of desire to attend school that day. School avoidance is not uncommon, and real symptoms may accompany the child's complaint of discomfort. Parents can encourage a swift return to school by following the advice of their pediatrician and helping their child resolve his fears.
A child who is trying to avoid going to school may appear to have a headache, stomachache, nausea or dizziness, according to the website Healthy Children. She may genuinely not feel well, or complain of other non-descriptive symptoms but her malaise will not include true symptoms of illness such as fever, vomiting or weight loss. When parents suspect that a child's reason for illness may be school avoidance, a visit to the pediatrician will reassure both parent and child that there is no sickness to fear.
Fears and Anxieties
Many episodes of school avoidance are caused by discomfort at school. A shy child may find a new situation with lots of people overwhelming. A teacher in the child's life may be forceful or overbearing. The child may be worried about academic failure or using public bathrooms. There may be a bully that is bothering the child. Young children may have difficulty separating from parents. Healthy Children notes that children with pre-existing anxiety may find those fears increased when entering school. Parents may try to plan a meeting with school authorities to assist a struggling child.
When Symptoms Persist
Children who avoid school by continually getting sick need an intervention by their parents. Parents may choose to involve the family pediatrician and school authorities as well. After the doctor has ruled out any actual illness, he may decide to refer the child to a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. This may be recommended if school avoidance lasts over the period of a week. A diagnostic evaluation may be prescribed to determine the presence or lack of an anxiety disorder. While more complicated than a school avoidance issue, anxiety disorders are treatable with parent involvement, medication treatments and cognitive behavior therapies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Ways To Help
Parents can talk to their child about what is bothering them. When parents are understanding and sympathetic of their child's anxiety, the child feels supported. Parents can try to help the child resolve situations that create stress for him. Healthy Children advises that parents insist on the child returning to school as soon as possible, emphasizing to the child that he is in good health and that school attendance is a law. If a bully is bothering the child, parents should discuss the problem with school staff. Parents can encourage their children to be independent by getting them involved in an enjoyable activity with friendly children outside the home.